Public Affairs Update Header
November 24, 2014
In This Issue
Metro Vancouver mayors turn focus to transit referendum
Federal government invests in B.C. tech sector
Moody warns B.C. about credit rating, putting potenting pinch on budget
The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.

Metro Vancouver mayors turn focus to transit referendum
Now that local elections are complete, Metro Vancouver mayors areturning their attention to their first big priority: the upcoming transit referendum. Lower Mainland voters will decide if they want to fund transportation improvements like expanded subway service in Vancouver, light rail to Surrey, more frequent bus, Seabus and Handy Dart services, and a new Pattullo Bridge.


The $7.5-billion TransLink’s mayors’ council plan will go to a referendum this spring. The plan calls for $3.9 billion from senior orders of government and new transit funding plus potential funding mechanisms such as bridge tolls and congestion charges. It also calls for the provincial government to re-allocate $250 million per year from the carbon tax for transit.


Transportation Minister Todd Stone balked at the carbon tax proposal and said is a non-starter.


The referendum will come at a time of change for local government. Five Metro mayors who served on the council no longer hold their seats, including Surrey’s Dianne Watts who did not run for re-election, and Jack Adelaar, the Mayor of Bowen Island, who passed away last month after battling cancer.


Federal government invests in B.C. tech sector
Last week, James Moore, federal minister of industry and minister responsible for B.C. announced that four B.C.-based companies will be receiving over $31 million through the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program (CAIP) to deliver incubator and accelerator services to small- and medium- sized businesses:

  • The BC Technology Industry Association will receive up to $10.4 million to support B.C. tech companies;
  • Startup accelerator HIGHLINE (formerly GrowLab in B.C.) will receive up to $600,000 to help digital entrepreneurs access capital;
  • The Centre for Drug Research and Development will receive up to $10.9 million to accelerate health science technology into the marketplace; and
  • Wavefront Wireless will receive up to $9.5 million to accelerate the research, commercialization and growth of Canada’s wireless sector.

The B.C. technology sector has a GDP of $15.5 billion, and is the recipient of over one third of total federal funding through the CAIP program.


Moody warns B.C. about credit rating, putting potential pinch on budget
Last week, Moody’s Investors Service gave a warning about B.C.’s provincial economy. The company revised its outlook on B.C.’s AAA credit rating from stable to negative.


The change does not immediately affect B.C. A downgrade to the province’s credit rating, however, would mean an increase to B.C.’s debt servicing costs, and put at risk provincial efforts to balance the budget.


Only B.C. and Alberta currently hold the AAA credit rating among the provinces in Canada.


The change comes as B.C. is projecting a second straight budget surplus. The current forecast is that the province will be $266 million in the black. Finance Minister Mike de Jong says B.C. is on track to reduce its debt to 18.1 per cent of GDP from 18.2 per cent last year.


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This weekly report produced for the BC Chamber of Commerce by Fleishman-Hillard.  While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information included in this publication as of the date of issue, events and government policies are subject to frequent change.  Therefore, the BC Chamber of Commerce and Fleishman-Hillard cannot assume any responsibility for actions taken solely or principally on the basis on the information contained herein.